Eat more protein, carbs to lose fat and gain muscle, dietitian says – Insider
Puteri, 34, submitted her eating routine for Insider’s Nutrition Clinic, where qualified dietitians offer advice on readers’ eating habits.
She told Insider her goals are to reduce her body fat percentage and gain muscle.
Puteri, who asked that we use only her first name, said she works out every day, usually doing HIIT or tabata and a five-kilometer run or rope skipping for 30 minutes, early morning or late evening. She works a 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. desk job and takes a day off only when she doesn’t have time to exercise.
Puteri said she lost weight during the pandemic — at first she crash dieted and lost about 20 pounds in eight months, but now she tries to eat a low-carb, high-protein diet, she said.
Dietitian Nichola Ludlam-Raine said it’s great to be active, but she recommends Puteri takes more rest days.
She suggests keeping two days a week for walks and replacing HIIT with strength training, using progressive overload: “Rest and recovery is essential for muscle growth,” Ludlam-Raine said.
Since we know crash dieting isn’t the best way forward, eating more protein and fiber can help you lose fat and build muscle, she said.
Puteri said she starts her day drinking warm water with apple cider vinegar and psyllium husk powder, followed by an iced Americano.
On the way to work, she said she eats Greek yogurt with fruit and homemade nutty granola.
Protein is key for building muscle. Ludlam-Raine recommends a minimum of 75 grams a day for Puteri — and Greek yogurt is a fantastic source. A 150- to 200-gram serving should give you 15 to 20 grams of protein, she said, but you could also add 1/2 scoop of protein powder for an extra boost.
“Having a variety of fruit and veg is key for good gut health, which supports our immune system,” she said. “The homemade granola sounds great — by including nuts you’re helping to boost the protein and healthy fats, too.”
For lunch, Puteri said she eats leftover chicken, such as curried chicken with eggplant or turmeric chicken with French beans, sometimes with scrambled eggs and tomatoes on the side. She has an apple with peanut butter as an afternoon snack.
Ludlam-Raine said this is a great high-protein lunch, but Puteri could add more variety to her diet by trying other lean protein sources such as turkey or fish, or plant-based sources like beans or lentils for more fiber.
“Adding a slice of whole-meal bread or some whole-grain rice or crackers would give you some slow-release energy and help with your body’s absorption of protein,” she said.
Puteri cooks dinner for her family, usually pasta or rice with chicken, fish, or beef and vegetables, but she only eats the protein and vegetables.
Ludlam-Raine said eating lots of veggies is great but including some carbs in her meals would actually help Puteri hit her fitness goals.
“It’s possible to increase muscle mass and lose body fat by consuming carbohydrates alongside your meals and this can also be beneficial to replenish your glycogen stores that will be depleted after your workouts,” she said, recommending higher-fiber carbs like brown rice, whole wheat pasta, or quinoa and mixed grains.
Puteri occasionally has a donut, slice of carrot cake, or flourless chocolate cake, she said.
Ludlam-Raine said it’s good that she includes treats in her diet, but she could benefit from eating some higher-protein snacks such as yogurt, low-fat cheese and oatcakes, or hummus and chopped vegetables.
Puteri aims to drink two to three cups of water a day and sometimes has a post-workout protein shake, but said she usually forgets.
Ludlam-Raine said Puteri should drink more water, at least six to eight cups a day, and more when exercising regularly. Look at the color of your urine to check whether you’re dehydrated: “If it’s dark yellow, you need to drink more!” she said.
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